It's difficult to ignore the iPod phenomenon, even if you're a manufacturer with your own line of MP3 players and associated speaker docks. Creative is a case in point.
But the ZiiSound D5 hasn't been chucked out into the marketplace to cynically cash in on the success of the iPod. It's a cleverly thought-out and skilfully executed piece of kit.While other docks come with cheap, plastic remotes, the D5 turns your iPod into a stylish, intuitive wand.
The use of Bluetooth wireless technology gives this unit an edge in the usability stakes. The speaker dock comes with a wireless transmitter that slides into the connector port on your iPod.
Bluetooth liberates your iPodYou can leave it attached to the top of the main unit to play and charge. Or, once paired with the receiver, you can liberate both iPod and transmitter and wander about using the actual player to alter volume, access playlists or skip tracks. How slick is that?
Now, you might be wondering about sound quality. After all, in our experience, streaming music over Bluetooth can give some hit and miss results. But the ZiiSound D5 has a trick up its sleeve in the shape of the high-tech apt-X audio codec.
More after the break
This helping hand allows a higher-quality audio signal to be transmitted via Bluetooth than is usually possible. And you'll be surprised by the results. Even highly compressed tracks are given enjoyable vigour and energy by the high-tech D5.
Spirited but tainted performance Spin a couple of dance tracks or some hip-hop and the Creative bounds along, serving up pounding basslines that ooze weight and power. It's the kind of large-scale sound that belies the unit's compact exterior dimensions and makes some rivals sound a little dour in comparison.
The monocoque design is less showy than most rivals, but the product feels robust and well-finished. The solid build translates into a lack of cabinet vibrations and that's good for sonic clarity and soundstage precision.
An acoustic track from Radio One's Live Lounge recordings is more of a test for the D5's midrange, and this is where it starts to show some weakness.
Vocals have a distinctly unnatural edge that isn't present on other speaker systems. It's not unpleasant, but does rob the dock of the transparency enjoyed by the likes of the B&W Zeppelin Mini. Which is a shame, because other than this slight flaw we've nothing but praise for the ZiiSound D5.
If its wireless operation appeals, this dock is well worth searching out.